How My Anxiety Made Me Realize I Was Dating The Wrong Person
Everyone says you learn the most from your first love.
He or she is the person you tell people about years after it's over because when you look back, you see how much you learned.
However, what happens when you put your first love and chronic anxiety in a room together? For me, denial ensued -- 11 months of it, to be exact.
At first, it was great, as every new romance is. Every morning, I woke up happy and could not wait to talk to him and see him. Everything was great, right until the honeymoon phase ended and the comfort stage began.
My first love happened to be my first relationship, and for me, the end of the honeymoon phase sent me into fight or flight mode.
Why was he texting less? Were other girls more interesting to him? Why does he never ask to hang out anymore? Why does he have Tinder now?
Every day, analyzing his every move absorbed my life and bombarded my brain.
I didn't want to be one of those girls who overanalyzed everything, but I felt as if I was going insane. I felt as if I could have become a Victoria's Secret model or the next Mark Zuckerberg and he still wouldn't have cared.
So, like anyone who suffers anxiety and is trying to make a relationship work, I took it upon myself to go seek professional help for $20 an hour at my college's mental health clinic.
I was told my thoughts were normal and I should start exercising more to rid myself of the anxiety. I should try and go to bed earlier and I should adopt a healthier lifestyle. I should give him space when he's angry and not pressure him to do anything.
I was paying $20 an hour for a woman to tell me I should completely change who I am so my anxiety would subside. And, at the time, I thought this was a great idea.
Maybe, if I gave him space, he wouldn't make excuses as to why he couldn't hang out during the weekend. Maybe, if I sent him a nice text message during the day, he would stop messaging other girls on Tinder.
Maybe, if I bought him a $200 briefcase, he would send me a good morning text. Maybe, if I took him back for the third time, he wouldn't walk out of my apartment again when I told him I loved him.
I woke up every single day full of anxiety because something just didn't feel right. Even if he did something nice, which was rare since he was “so busy with work," I felt as if it wasn't genuine.
When you have anxiety, people automatically assume it's your job to fix it. If you get rid of your anxiety, your relationship will be perfect, right?
“Go see a doctor; it will help, I swear.” “Maybe you should get on medication.” “You need to stop worrying about the things he does and doesn't do!”
However, what it took me 11 months to realize was it's not anxiety that causes relationships to fail; it's you trying to force a relationship with a toxic person who is the source of your anxiety.
Here are a few things my anxiety taught me during my relationship:
It's not your anxiety causing you to be insecure, it's him or her not respecting you.
Listen, you can try to convince yourself all you want that when he or she checks Tinder while you're together, it's totally innocent. But, that won't change the fact that it's not.
He or she is not checking Tinder messages in front of you because you're spoiled goods due to your anxiety, but rather, because he or she doesn't respect you. You deserve better.
It's not your anxiety that causes you to over-think everything, it's your partner being at his or her ex's house at 2 am and lying to you about it.
Is it creepy that you're using Find my Friends to see where he or she is? Yeah.
But, don't go running to your horoscope app and wondering if the reason behind it is because Mercury is in retrograde. Mercury isn't in retrograde; your significant other just sucks.
It is not your anxiety causing your trust issues, it's your partner causing your trust issues.
I'm not telling you not to trust the person you're with, but if he or she says one thing and you see him or her do something else, you have a reason to have trust issues.
If you call him or her out on it and he or she victimizes him or herself or make you feel bad about bringing it up, then leave.
Be with someone who will work through every issue you have and leave you feeling better than you did at the start of the conversation.
It's not your anxiety causing you to be needy, it's your partner not acknowledging who you are in his or her life.
Your anxiety isn't the reason why you want him to introduce you as his girlfriend to people. The reason you want that is because you want to feel like someone is proud to have you.
You want to be wanted and that isn't because of your anxiety, it's because you deserve to be treated with respect.
It's not your anxiety ruining the relationship. Stop blaming yourself.
Please stop telling yourself the relationship will be better if you fix your anxiety because it won't be if you're with a toxic person.
If you suffer from chronic anxiety and you are seeking professional help, your partner should be by your side, lifting you higher. If he or she isn't there during your darkest hour, he or she shouldn't be there at all.
Your anxiety is not a curse, it is who you are. It is what makes you wonderful.
*Editor's Note: This article has been slightly amended post-publish to protect the identities of people it involved.